Legends of The Tanbark Trail

Guest Writer Memories
   Just a sampling of what you will read in the book

Mert Sowerby, Michigan

It is in trips such as these, including the state fair show circuits and culminating at the national shows where you get to know so many people, the men in the barns, the farm managers, the show officials, college people associated with the shows, and many of the owners from the ivory towers of the business world. There is no way to put a value on this unforgettable experience as one grows into the industry.

Lewis Porter, Kentucky

At that time we showmen helped each other. We slept in the barns with our cattle. Several of us would team up and hire one fellow to run lines at night. My favorite and also the favorite of many showmen was Snow. He was a black man with snow white hair. Every morning when we got up there was never a dirty cow. He was a good man and friend to the show crews. Each herd had a display and they were always so beautifully done. I recall washing Jerseys at Waterloo and my Jersey friends thought I was crazy. They were using green soap and heavy blankets. I used only sweat blankets after washing. Then, everyone got rid of the heavy blankets and started washing and using sweat blankets. Animals were left uncovered during the day for viewing by show visitors.

R. Peter Heffering, Ontario

What really made the show unforgettable for me was the trip to get there and back. In 1960, Aldo Panceria, the owner of Tum-A-Lum Farm (Osborndale Ivanhoe was developed by him) and I, who at the time, was the herdsman at the Beacon Dairy Research Farm (we had the Amcana Dictator Model daughters) were to truck the cattle with his tractor-trailer to Chicago. What I didn't know was that his truck had the ability to go maybe 50 mph on the flat and about 15 to 20 mph on the incline. I can tell you, when the cattle and we arrived in Chicago, we all looked like death warmed over. However, with each passing day and a lot of tender loving care, the cattle responded. By show day, they were ready.

Stuart Rowe, California

My last cross-country boxcar trip occurred in 1965 traveling to the State Fair in Oklahoma for our national show. I exhibited the winning aged bull (also Grand Champion) in a class of 12 with the renowned Keith King judging. The ring was a little small for that many bulls, and I remember the tension mounting in both man and beast as if it were yesterday. Fortunately, everything remained under control and I left the arena dripping wet with my arms quivering involuntarily from the effort, proud to be a winner and relieved to have survived the experience safely! Soon, moving cattle by rail and showing big classes of aged bulls would be a distant memory.

Bertram Stewart, Ontario

Naturally it was an honor to lead all of these champions, but when I look back and assess them all there is a difference. As I said before, Sonwil Reflection Bee was a real favorite, however, I do rate Quality BC Frantisco (EX-96) and Duncan Belle (EX) as the two most outstanding females that I have shown. These two cows when I was leading them appeared to me like real machines. They were blessed with general appearance, style, and dairy strength, as well as near-perfect mammary systems. Leading 16 Royal Winter Fair grand champions has been exciting and a dream that did come true.

Pete Vanderham, California

My thoughts now return to a horse trailer. I got what I thought was a bright idea when I saw a horse trailer parked at a U-Haul rental lot. I rented that trailer for two hours, took it to the local welding shop, and asked the owner if he could gut the inside and then restore it to its original condition when I was done using it. He said he could. I returned the trailer back to the U-Haul lot and reserved a date for later use. I then picked it up the day before I was to leave for Columbus. I took it to the welding shop and had it remodeled. The next morning I left for Columbus with Jolene in the U-Haul hooked to my '67 Chevy with the vacuum pump in the trunk and my three year old son Bill in the back seat.

Marcia Shaver-Floyd, Iowa

Getting back to the show at Waterloo, several herds came from out of state by train. One of my fondest memories is sitting on the show box with Lillian Rowe of Innisfail, Davis, California, as she talked about cattle, California, even poetry and literature. It was a real experience for a simple farm girl! It was a sad time with the Cattle Congress closed. I still have the last premium check that was returned for insufficient funds.

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